Faraway People – Reg Meuross ‘You’ll be unfit for work when you’re dead’

In 2015 I found a site on the internet called Hephaestus, in which cases of all those who had died directly as a result of austerity measures. The disabled benefit cuts and Atos schemes were listed. It was a long list. With the death toll growing daily, I wrote Faraway People and this is a performance of it at the We Shall Overcome gig in Cambridge earlier this year. These are all real people and real cases, and just a tiny fraction of the full list.


Carl Payne, Leanne Chambers and Terry McGarvey
There but for grace, luck and fortune go we
Wayne Grew, Linda Wootton and poor David Coupe
But for the whim of our government go me and you
Stephanie Bottrill lived only on custard
While her small income paid for a bedroom unused
One cold winters day she walked under a lorry
Her benefits cut and assistance refused
Julian Little was bound to a wheelchair
His machine in the spare room to keep him alive
‘it’s a luxury people like you can’t afford’
Said the council and julian withered and died
These are the voices of faraway people
The man in the street and the hospital bed
The scandal of governments unfit to govern
Look down look down look down
You’ll be unfit to work when you’re dead
Seven ropes swinging and seven souls singing
Lifted from poverty lifted from pain
Freed of their guilt and relieved of their burden
For the price of a hotel or lunch on the plane
For 300 pounds you spend a day on the benches
And award for a week just a sixth of that fee
To a man who faced death for this land in the trenches
And sooner than starve hangs himself from a tree
Look into the eyes of Nicholas Barker
Barely able to hold up the gun
Or young christelle pardoe clutching her baby
As she leaps 5 months gone into oblivion


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Reg Meuross Singer Songwriter Storyteller